Shimer Great Books

Stuart Patterson

Associate Professor in the Shimer Great Books School


+1 630 637 5487

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Like many Shimer students and graduates, I have had a somewhat varied academic and professional career. I first studied visual art at the Cooper Union in NYC before getting a great books education at St. John’s College in Santa Fe. For five years after that, I was an arts therapist in northern California before returning to school to get a degree in American Studies from Emory University with a dissertation on race relations and collective memory in the 20th century. I have been with Shimer since 2004, and have taught all the courses in the core curriculum. I’ve also taught electives on the history of economic thought, on theories of metaphor, on the history and phenomenology of reading, and on museology (among others). My most recent interest (since coming to North Central in 2017) is Chinese literature, specifically The Story of the Stone by Cao Xueqin. I've been to China twice in the last three years to begin research on this masterpiece and look forward to teaching it among the other works on our ever-more-inclusive curriculum. 

Selected Scholarship

“Democratic Nostalgia: Arthurdale, West Virginia as a ‘Living Museum.’” in Defining Memory: Local Museums and the Construction of History in America’s Changing Communities, 2nd Ed. Amy Levine, ed. Lanham, MD: Alta Mira Press, 2017.

 “Will We Always Have The Poor Among Us?” JStor Daily Feature Article, January 11, 2017.

“Confessions of a Well-Trained Mind,” My View column, Liberal Education, Vol. 102, No. 3 (Summer 2016).

“Social Programs and the New Deal,” in Interpreting American History: the New Deal and Great Depression, ed. Aaron Purcell, Kent State University Press, 2014.

Courses Taught

Why - and What - Should We Read?

Theories of Metaphor

The Black Chicago Renaissance

History and Principles of Economic Thought